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China’s US visit: Trade vs dominance

Published time: February 14, 2012 07:48
Edited time: February 14, 2012 21:32

Joe Biden (R) and Xi Jinping at the White House in Washington, DC, February 14, 2012 (AFP Photo / Jim Watson)

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The arrival of the Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping in the US comes at a testing time in relations between these economic giants. The two sides are expected to work on ties against the backdrop of a US military build-up around China.

­To discuss this and other delicate matters, Xi Jinping is due to meet with his American counterpart Joe Biden.

Michael Raska, Defense Analyst at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, says this visit is an introduction tour for China's future President.

“2012 is a very important year in Chinese politics. It’s a year when we’ll see a generational shift in the Chinese political system,” he told RT. “Xi Jinping, basically, represents a fifth generation of new Chinese leaders which will take the helm after this year. He is poised to become the party’s Secretary General in October and become China’s future president. And secondly, he…must introduce himself to the US.”

On the other hand, Raska notes, there is very little information on what XI Jinping’s real views are.

“I believe there will be tensions, but most of all it will be very important how the new generations of leaders, especially in China, manage their own domestic problems, and how they will be able to communicate with the Americans, and vice versa,” he said.

RT spoke to David Dodwell, a trade expert and former Financial Times correspondent, who says the two countries “need to maintain a high level of diplomatic contact.”

Dodwell thinks that given China's rapid economic rise, the key issue for discussion will be trade.

The US "wants to see Chinese people consume more, buy more American exports," he said, adding that Washington is “frustrated that this is not happening.”

Sydney-based academic and journalist Sushil Seth believes that Xi’s visit to Washington is “very significant”, because it gives the Chinese leader-in-waiting a chance to assess America’s position on a range of sensitive issues.

“Before the visit, in Beijing, Xi Jinping made the point that America has to accommodate China’s core interests,” he told RT. “And core interests for China are…the strategic area, the Asia-Pacific area. And in that, they’ve already made it clear that they have sovereignty over the South China Sea and the Spratly and Paracel islands belong to them. These islands are contested by some of the countries in the region like Vietnam, like the Philippines, and naval incidents have already occurred.”

During his visit, Xi is scheduled to meet US President Barack Obama at White House, and will later travel to Iowa and California.

The current US visit of the Chinese vice-president reciprocates Vice President Joe Biden's trip to China in August last year.

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